Rooted in a strong liberal arts curriculum, Transylvania’s art program encourages the interplay of ideas from a variety of disciplines. Students explore personal and global issues in their studio work, and analyze these ideas in art history and seminar classes. The program’s philosophy rests on the firm belief that the best art draws from both broad social issues and aesthetic concerns.
Studio art and art history are firmly allied at Transylvania. Studio art majors take art history classes and art historians take studio classes. Teaching art majors take courses from both disciplines, in addition to their required education courses. All five art faculty members—three in studio and two in art history—consult one another in the construction of these majors.
Majors and minors collaborate in a variety of ways: in studios and classrooms; in the Transy Student Art League (TSAL); in the college snack bars; and on trips to museums and galleries. All majors travel together, at least once in their college careers—to New York, Washington, D.C., or another U.S. city—on the annual art trip. The trip is subsidized by a university endowment.
An evolving series of interdisciplinary courses pair art with other disciplines—literature, philosophy, physics, and theater—and with non-academic community and professional partners. These courses generate creative and scholarly responses to particular topics, with the ultimate goal of fostering public engagement.
In the end, many of Transylvania's art students find careers in the fields of art, architecture, and education. And because these majors are integrated into the broader liberal arts community, others find they can pursue successful careers or graduate study in a wide variety of areas.
To provide a more global context, the art program sponsors an annual trip to a national cosmopolitan venue where students can see world-class art of both contemporary and traditional significance. Trips have included visits to New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. In addition, the program regularly brings artists and lecturers of national and international prominence to campus for intimate meetings with classes and individual students.
However, Transylvania students don’t have to travel far to see innovative artwork by regional, national, and internationally recognized artists. Located right on campus, the Morlan Gallery hosts a variety of stimulating exhibits throughout the year.
“In my opinion, it’s one of the most interesting galleries in Lexington because we don’t have to worry about making money,” said Andrea Fisher, director of the gallery. “We can focus on bringing in interesting artwork, and that helps us be one of the most cutting edge galleries in the city.”
Twice a year, the 1,500-square foot gallery embraces student artwork during a senior showcase and an all-student, all-campus exhibit. The academic dean chooses one exceptional work from a student each year to be purchased and added to Transylvania’s permanent collection displayed in the faculty/staff lounge in the Mitchell Fine Arts Center, the student center and in offices and public spaces across campus.